Yesterday’s post got me thinking about a piece I wrote back in 2005. The conversation mentioned below took place in 2000, and since then I have thought about it a lot, thought about what is meaningful to me, what I can throw myself into and call my own. I have since come up with something that could be said about me, something I am passionate about, something that really illustrates all that I think and see and do.
I’ve updated the original piece just a little for this blog but the meaning is the same.
I once met a photographer through my previous job who wanted to capture the life and essence of people’s spirits. How he portrays people is by knowing what their passion is. His of course is photography. So, when the company hired him to do some freelance work, he wanted to know, “What are you passionate about? Everybody is passionate about something.” One of my coworkers knew his answer right away: “Fishing. I love to fish. I could fish every day. I could spend hours at a time doing it. It’s what I love to do best.” When it came time for me to answer, I was at a loss. I didn’t have anything that I could undoubtedly say was my “passion.” Am I not passionate about anything? I think I like doing a lot of things, a variety of things really. But I couldn’t come up with a solid answer as to what I am passionate about. That question has haunted me ever since.
Sure, I still like doing a lot of things, a lot of different things. I mentioned this haunting question to someone once, and their answer was simple: “You’re passionate about books.” Yes, I love books and I love to read. But, I also get my fill of that love through my current work. I love what I do, but I want my “passion” to be something that comes from outside of my work. Ever since the question of what I’m passionate about was posed to me, I have been on a quest to answer it. So here are some options:
I love to sing. I don’t do it in front of people normally. I’m too shy. I can sing in front of my friends and family, but in front of strangers? I just can’t do it. I clam up and it comes out sounding just awful. I also can’t do it in front of other singers. Most of the time I think they’re better than me, so why would I want to depress myself about how I’m not good compared to them? I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to anyone, but it’s difficult when you’re honestly not as good at something as the other person. I guess for as much as I love to sing, I’m also insecure about it. How can I say something is my passion in life if I’m insecure about it? So that can’t be the answer.
I like entertaining – having people over to enjoy good food, drink, and conversation. But I don’t know as though I’d say that’s a passion. Most people do it, and a lot of people are good at it. But to me, a passion is something that should be done often, and, well I don’t entertain all that often. So that can’t be it.
I’ve wanted to get into hiking, kayaking, cycling, camping, all of which I could say is my passion if only I did any of those things more often than I do. Let’s face it—if I were that passionate about any of those things, I’d own a kayak, a bicycle in working order, or a tent. But I own none of those things. So that can’t be it either. [Since this time of originally writing this, I have obtained both a new bike and a tent, but still I cannot call either cycling or camping my passion since I do not do either of those things as often as I would like.]
I love to organize, to keep things neat and orderly, to plan. I could very well say that this is my passion, and on some level it is. But this is also a hobby. And not to say that you can’t be passionate about a hobby, because you can be. In fact, it stands to reason that you would be passionate about a hobby. Why else would it be a hobby? But for me, I’d like my “passion” to be something that’s a little more internal, something that comes from within, something that comes from my essence.
So what is it? I’d like to find a solid answer to this question. It really bothers me that I don’t have one. It bothered me when I was first asked about it. But it bothered me more later on in life. I once went to a funeral for someone who was related to someone I know. Although I had never met the person for whom the funeral was held, I felt that I had a sense of what his life was like—there were pieces of his life displayed throughout the room—pieces illustrating his passions—his bowling ball, his surf board, and other things as well. It gave me a sense of who he was and what he loved best in life. And I wished I had half the sense of self that he seemed to. Selfishly, all I could think was, “If I were to die, I don’t know what pieces of my life my family would lay down for others to see. I don’t have any kind of passion that would illustrate what my life is all about.”
As I sit here writing this, I am saddened by the young, passionate life taken so unfairly and abruptly and way too early. And then, the answer comes to me. What I have been looking for is literally right in front of me. I could in all honesty say that my passion in life is writing. I love to do it, and have been doing it officially for myself since my freshman year of college. I’ve only recently started revealing my passion to others, although I’ve always had plans to do so.
But I’ve been “unofficially” writing all my life. When I was younger, I would write stories full of creative plots and characters. I would write letters to my best childhood friend, letters that were peppered with inside jokes and memories. When I got a little older I wrote a story for my mom using my grandfather’s old typewriter, making up a story that stemmed from a game my mother and her siblings and cousins used to play at my great-grandmother’s house on Main Street, a game I never played and didn’t know the rules for. I created the story based on the game’s title alone. I thought the story was on its way to being something good and felt even prouder when my mother laughed out loud because I touched a cherished memory that lay so deeply rooted in her life history. All throughout high school I would make up stories and advertisements as jokes for my family. Even though they are probably the only ones who would ever understand the meaning of these writings, I loved that they loved them. My dad still has one hanging up in his office from decades ago. I guess that grabbed him in a way I never knew was possible.
So, yes. My passion in life is writing. It’s a shame that it has taken me so long to figure it out, even though I’ve been doing it all along. I hope to one day write a book—a novel or maybe just my own observations of life and daily relationships and activities. But the type of writing doesn’t matter just so long as I keep at it. Maybe when I die, the friends and family at my funeral can read all that was not published but all that revealed my life’s true feelings.
Looking back on this piece, I can honestly say that I’ve come up with a few more passions to add to my list. But this is the one that sticks out at me because it is the truest, most honest thing I do that feeds my soul. It allows me to interpret my world, see it in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. Maybe someday, when I have the time, I will start writing creatively again. I am happy to say, however, that I don’t have a lot of free time for it since my life is filled with many other hobbies now.
I guess I have finally and fully answered the question about what I am passionate about. You?